Monday, June 26, 2017

Enough


Made it to One and it's an anniversary I don't take lightly -
Years ago I had plans for my first anniversary with Alan.
I had hoped to have a dinner party with our closest friends where we'd serve the same food that he and I, in our wedding excitement,
barely got to taste.

Longevity Noodles would have been prominently featured.

But the meaning behind those, proved not to work.
Though if one were to count a legacy of love as an offshoot,
they certainly did.

Now that I've reached the official end of one, with Adam,
I am still counting my blessings.
It is an action that never tires.
I tell him I even love being in traffic with him
because
I
do.
It is all the moments I cherish.
The every and in-between moments.
And I forever feel fortunate that our lives reconnected - so that we could continue on, in life,
together.

This anniversary, the two of us shared a beautiful meal.
We spent our weekend together in nature and savored our time in warm porch sun,
in some funky junky bohemian inn overflowing with dishes and instruments,
old furniture and other peoples' discards - juke box rock wafting through open panes,
grass,
air, river and hills.
It all reminded,  in the sweetest of ways,
how lucky I am to have enough.
Of love
Of children
Of friends.

Markers and milestones wear out the widowed.
But what I've discovered is that real love doesn't compete.
Doesn't have to. What's real is real is real.
There is room enough,
love enough,
for everyone.

As I approach nine years without Alan, here, his presence still shines.
In dreams, through Lily and people encounters that still crop up
and bring favorite stories and memories to light.
And every new story is like finding a photo -
Comforting even from a suspended distance.

Felt right to be surrounded by old things with my new love.
Reminded me how solid a memory can be even in the glow of fresh, afternoon sun.
Together Adam and I are building our own story and I hope the pages have no back cover.
I think when I marveled at how heavy and sound the floors there felt,
I was reassured to feel planted and rooted in ...  now.
The house was solid
and filled
with any-time.
Plenty of room for all of it,
past,
present,
future.





Thursday, April 20, 2017

Girl Song.



This morning I asked my daughter to eat her breakfast
seven times.
Seven.
I was angry and rushed and frustrated,
and am always bothered by her non-urgency when we have places to go.

But I'm the one who always tells her to be in the moment.

And this morning, when I entered the room with my EIGHTH plea,
there she was, singing Kumbaya, clapping,
toe-tapping and topless,
in front of her hamster's cage.

On plea seven, she had actually had a shirt on,
but somewhere in the after-moments...
her mind took a turn,
and new options had been put on hold.
For a song.

I yelled.
Not proud, but I did.
Her teacher says asking once should be enough.

Not in our home.
But even with my frustration there was
another thread,
inside,
that made my own heart sing.

When I reminded her of that concept on our way to the subway,
of once being enough,
she was looking way up.

OK mama, she said, eyes still on the sky.

Did you hear what I actually asked?

Yes mama.  The seatbelt light just went on in that plane Mama.

And so it went.

There is nothing I love more than the
sound
of
her
voice - anytime.
But particularly
singing
in the morning.
She sings and sings and sings.
In the shower,
in the bathroom,
to the mirror,
when she is sidetracked between drawers of clothing yet to be decided on,
sings as she brushes and ties and packs and unpacks.
I love her wonderment and whimsy.
Her loose energy that floats into our world at inopportune times.

Need more of it myself.

Think it's why I haven't written.
Been so much and nothing to say.
I let some hideous person permeate my life.
Way Too Much.

Got to get back on track.
Slip into her mind for a bit
to focus on the
Good.
Let my mind go back a bit,
cause this girl's looking at her days the way she should.
Will need to play this for her, tonight...

Monday, October 17, 2016

He.


That... man?
Thinks
he can undo what I / we have done.
I know women,
lots of them.
Who get up every morning, feed, bathe, dress and drop their kids,
and
dash to work to enable them to do all they did in the hours before.
We are smart, brash, bold, defiant.
And yet that trip to work is often a slog
through hideous leers
gestures
whistles
you can feel their eyes, just as Bruce says,
take a walk all over you -
And it
Doesn't.
Feel.
Good.
So many times I've been told to "smile" -
whether I was rushing to be on time for work or
frantically hustling back to my husband who was battling a life threatening illness in a hospital.
Been abused in ways too cliche to share.
They didn't know
didn't care
about who I was,
just wanted something for themselves to
feel good about,
be on top of,
to push around,
their feral bodies aching for a moment of thrill
before they turn to the next woman
or girl…  My Girl?
who walks on by.

And now I've got two more girls,
Young Women
Who are just stepping into their own bodies
Discovering the powers of their prowess
and teetering on the brink of discovering how they
may or may not use them,
flirting dangerously with all that we've struggled to
Shut
Down.

When I hear our First Lady
I am grateful to see a Woman who I can point to and say
YES.
SHE is what we're all talking about
and illustrates what we're so fearful of losing ~
She is our minds our bodies our intelligence.
Stay with her, follow that path
of self respect, strength and
determination.
And we have a Presidential Candidate who
has waded through the mud slung by men and women -
been subjected to their superficial judgements about her voice, her clothing, the slips she's made -
she has been mocked relentlessly for her imperfections and still fights back.
She too is a force.
No stares, no bullying nor disrespect have stood in her way -
Ever.
She's worked tirelessly
to get where she is,
today.

New Heros in hard times.

It is reassuring that last week a Poet
was honored
because we may be on the cusp of a very
Dark Age.

If only Art could save us.

How surprising, and refreshing to know  - that a committee of powerful thinkers
is celebrating an artist
who has illuminated hardships, wrong-ness, love and loss -
so decently, thoughtfully and passionately.
He will forever strike me as a romantic and a realist -
with his ruminations on war, peace, and relationships.
He has moved so many with his humanity.
I will never forget the feeling of sitting by a beach fire
blazing on a clear and cold summer night,
meditating on his words as they wafted through the crowd around me.
The message clear and empowering, even then to us as kids:
We know
what
Danger
looks like.

May these Three
and all of Us
Outshine the ugliness that is sweeping in,
hovering like smog,
and threatening to choke our children.

Our world is way too precious. (Listen)



Thursday, October 6, 2016

Exhale


Made it.

Summer's moved out,
with a giant
breath.
And we got
hitched
without
a
hitch.

So many hearts to take care of in the moments
leading up...
I was worried,
so worried,
anxious and protective.
Tired, excited and nervous.

Children to handle gently,
in-laws to watch over,
new family to embrace,
old friends and my family who've been through our "all"
and kept eyes on me closely
these past eight years...
So many hearts to look after,
not to mention
my own.

But how lucky we were - Lily and I
to have Alan's family there to bravely cheer us on
as we ushered Adam's in.
And how fortunate we were - Lily and I
to have Adam's family there,
alongside Alan's
embracing this connection
and honoring its link.

Not easy for anyone,
but this crowd,
This
Crowd
Showed
Up.

So on that fair evening,
under redwoods and pines,
we got to join hands,

all of us.

Everything and everyone was fine.

And now as autumn breezes in,
casting shadows that linger and shorten our days,
I can look back and
see
how far we've come,
and relish the
gift
of
a
second chance.









Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Where you been

Whoa.
Hello Emotions,
shadows big and small, all nipping at my feet, 
tugging at my heart and sometimes hijacking joys that should be all mine.
But that's the brand of widow world, 
not the image, just the scar
that
never fully
smooths over.
The color just never fully sets. 
Like an unfinished project that will never be complete - 
and this one's not due to any procrastination - it's just due to 
life's 
twists and turns.
Unsolicited and solicited.
The good with the bad,
happiness with the sad,
because when you lose partner number one,
it takes its toll on round two.

Just
Does

So here I am, 
on the threshold of a new chapter
embracing beautiful and Whole New Love
trying as best I can to be the step that his kids 
can ...  accept.  And understand.
Trying to comfort my girl as she navigates and embraces all of her steps - but mourns
the loss of what she-and-I-were for the years before 
We 
All 
Met.
And grappling with who I am as I link arms and hearts with another partner,
and understanding that as I move forward, my past, remains unchanged.

It is hard not ever being fully in control.
And here comes Father's Day.
A hurdle that never lowers in height.


But.

This
is all about accepting what comes your way,
moving within, around, alongside and beyond ....
Lessons more easily taught to an Almost Second Grader.
Constant practice of what I preach.
Days ago I cried as I ordered morning coffee,
felt so teen in my middle aged body.
Had to excuse myself to the bakery bathroom 
to get a grip 
again
on all that's brought me to 
This 
Day.

(Surely Alan was cuing the violins, 
somewhere 
in the 
Sun 
Above.)

And then I am alright again.
Like a reggae song with an easy groove,
and Adam always feels just right.
So 
Steady
He
Is
Grateful for a new man to be in love with and to be loved by,
Grateful to have a child who's never said no to this giant change.
Grateful for the children he too is raising,  
Because I am, indeed, joyful - 
and excited to look forward to all that lights the path
Ahead.

Can't ever know what force it was, that led us to reconnect
in this Circle Game...
But it is another Good Beginning,
for both of us,
so all together
we
will
go.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Feeling Good.

I
am
getting
married.

Never guessed never dreamed those words
would come out of my mouth
again.

Still feels like a daydream, stuns my senses
despite how right it feels.
When I peek at rings it still feels like I need to explain
I'm a widow, but I'm getting married,
not sure if I deserve the ring, or if it's right,
because I have one,
I mean, had one, but but but...
But this is New Love
and a new start -
so that sweet stone, that my grandfather saved up for,
now sits in a drawer
waiting
for his great granddaughter's hand -
to use when she is graced with
Another's Love.

But I will always be a widow -
I will.
And I don't mind the label ~
Reminds me of where I've been
and has forever shaped the woman I am
today
and who I will continue to be.
And it's introduced me to a crowd,
yes crowd,
of powerhouse women - who have rejoined this world like
lions,
with fierce and proud and poignant memories of all that came
before.

And as I walk on, with Lily by my side,
we will forever be a deeply connected duo.
To think she's just turned seven...
She's come so far from that Friday dawn
when she entered this world
breathing life into mine.

She brought me back,
led the way.
Threw me over her shoulder and hauled me with
oblivious ease
through nights and mornings and feedings and swings,
walks and grass, bandaids and rain,
first days and lessons,
milestones and anniversaries, Father's Days and Mother's Days.

Remarkable what one little person can do,
just as her school song says.

This morning I savored how she held my hand
a little-kid-lapse in her crusade to grow up.
Signaled me with our Secret Squeeze,
reminding me of how we will always be
Us.

So together we're embracing our new(ish) family,
she loves her soon-to-be Steps,
she loves her second dad,
and I love them all and how they
so openly
allow us
into
their world.
It is as though, somehow, we've won the lottery,
despite the landmark crater in my heart,
and the wanting hole in hers...
As a friend reminded me just today,
we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful,
but gratefulness that makes us happy.

When I hear Lily laugh with them
it is the
sweetest
music
to my
ears.

We are grateful.
We are happy.
Sing.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bleecker Street


Not quite sure
How.
…  How
I might explain
The List
of names from yesterday's loss
to an almost seven year old girl, today.
Conversation so layered and loaded
and we've only just discussed families with nowhere to go, 
bad choices made to hurt people,
pollution in China, 
a vanishing island and 
Japanese internment.

She can read now.

And then I see 
Today's Names.
Like rings on a tree, 
each life was a generation -
and they all represented the soul of a country we are lucky
to

Share.

Johnson, Bet-badal, Godoy, Amanios, Kaufman, Bowman,
Velasco, Clayborn, Adams, Thalasinos, 
Nguyen, Espinoza, Meins, Wetzel

There They Are, Lily.  
Do you hear the sounds in their names?
see the sneaky consonants, 
the tricky vowel combinations -
Take a good look at all those names,
they celebrate heritage, harbor hope,
color our world 
and tell us how so many families,
like ours,
most likely all started 

Somewhere
Else.

What is there to destroy in those
Rainbow Names?

She is studying community.
The word rolls off her lips with pride,
hits the T with hear-me aplomb
she is only just seeing its beauty
for the very
first time.

I will someday have to talk this through with her,
though I hope it's not tomorrow.
She's taking in our
Big
Problems
one thought at a time.
But her shoulders are small,
and she loves her Village.

Fog's sure to lift, 
soon enough.  
But for now, (shhhh….)...


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall / Time.


Just recently I went to a Bar Mitzvah,
For the son of an old friend.
I marveled at how this college comrade had grown him.
I could still see her across a cafe table,
over a pot of tea, an Apricot Jewel on a plate between us,
and art history notes scattered before us...
She had waited for this day.
Pretty soon this will be Lily, she smiled,
and then returned to her coming-of-age creation.

It's these rituals that tug at me,
deep within my chest.
Always happens in sacred places
the beauty almost too much for me to bear.
The voices soft yet strong - finding home amid
stenciled walls, onion domes, Eastern patterns,
dangling, stately lights.
And as we move through the hour,
all I can do is keep the ache in my throat
frozen at bay
for fear if I exhale
out will come
the sobs,
the surrendering slouch
of a person still grappling with the
passage
of
time.

And while I don't long for this particular ritual for Lily,
I am envious of the opportunity it offers -
the ceremonial invitation into adulthood
the acknowledgement of how far they have come,
the opportunity to celebrate the strides they have taken
every day of their young lives, until this point.

Shouldn't they all be commended for their
arrival and survival?

I search the ceilings for answers.

Growing up is no small feat.

This place is part of our culture and reminds us of some of our roots,
though I am a believer in many spirits - not just One.
But when I see the rabbi place her hands on a gently bowed head
and hear the whispered murmurings between them,
it is Alan I see
with his hands on
Our Girl
and I imagine what she will look like
when she reaches that age.
I can see her head bent, dark downcast eyes,
I see bangs and length,
soft cheeks and awkward grace.

Surely she would listen, quietly, to his affirming words.

It is these life moments
that strangle my gut...
and thrust me into "how will I do this" mode -
without her Dad to help me guide her.

But sure enough, he showed up that morning,
in the form of another old friend's encompassing and gentle warm hand,
that reached for me toward the end of the service.

It's okay, Sus, he said through her touch -
It's okay.

All I could do to keep my heart steady,
was look up at the patterns,
to keep the tears from spilling.

But then they closed with one of my favorites,
a relief to hear,
it loosened the Hold
and sent me on my way.

This version, my all-time favorite:  Turn Turn Turn

 

Friday, October 2, 2015

She's a Rainbow


Sometimes
it feels
like
an
eruption
has happened, in our
home.
Teenage Explosions that shower
lava
all around me
and the heat of it all
melts my resolve
instantly
and then rushes on
and
breaks
my
heart.

Such power
She has,
in her six year old frame
the anger and frustration with nowhere to go but
up
and
out

over to my corner
where I brace myself
against nothing but
hope and the spine that used to keep me so
strong
and ready
for anything

And then I have conversations,
in my mind,
with Alan -
and while he tells me she's just grappling
and struggling and missing and longing,
I tell him it feels like
she's thinking it's my fault,
she's mad at me that
You're
Not
Here
and
she's
wishing
I could go away

I think she'd like a
trade
to get
him
back.
Then maybe we'd see more
of her
cooler colors.

Friday, September 4, 2015

For A & A


An acquaintance just got married...
Don't know her well,
but in some ways, I might know her more than most.
She's widowed, with a little girl.
Lost her first man in a similar battle.
She found me, years ago,
long distance, as we survivors tend to do.
There is something special when you walk similar paths -
you share thoughts knowingly,
and ponder similar questions.
You share the same secret fears,
discuss challenges without concern of uninformed judgement,
and contemplate hopes that seem so far off.

But she got there.

And just the other day, I caught her -
smiling on Facebook, with her girl under her arm.
Both in their wedding best -
beautiful in its non-pomp -
because this was a different celebration.
The continuation of a journey but an
arrived at destination -
There was a look in her eyes that said it all
I have loved, been loved, am loved and continue to find love
For
Us
Both
and in those same eyes was a look I know so well.
They announced ease and comfort,
a firmly rooted stillness,
and a reflection that gracefully acknowledged
what they had been through,
what she had endured
and the heartache she will forever feel,
in moments that flash between sips of coffee,
or fly by with a turn of her daughter's head.

But the beauty that she displays
is the image
we all
hope for.

We women are strong,
and this one,
this friend, and her pint-sized life companion,
deserve all that she has found
so thoughtfully for
them
both.
Some Mom.
Some Partner.
Some Woman.



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Four


Never knew
I'd find love again,
never thought
it'd happen like this.

Seven years ago
away went the dreams
the union,
the lives
that
we
had hoped for,
had planned.

Except for One.
She stuck with me, and together, we forge
Intrepid Life Explorers
new territory,
friendships,
places,
love.
And now, with Adam,
come Three More
makes me smile as I write
'cause
we'll
take
it
all,
she and I.

Yes.  Please.

Love the company, the play,
the backseat singing,
the take turn arguing,
the no-tech bartering,
the can't sleep annoying,
the mealtime talking,
the hotels and motels,
lakes and pools,
happy laughing,
together adventuring,
ice-cream dripping
too-long-in-the-car-road-trip-tripping,
and aunts and uncles and grandparent sharing.

And
Oh The Sleep -
when they're all
Finally
Down...
It is then that I feel family,
stronger than ever
and know that though
Lily and I are
one
tight
duo,
there's always room
for
more.




Monday, June 22, 2015

Fly Away.


Summer's come.
Swept my girl out Kindergarten's door.
A year of words and books and ducks,
apples, weavings, workbooks and risks.

First Grade is hovering,
and Wednesday's morning found me
standing on the sidewalk,
eyes blurred by motherhood stun.
Left me holding a clay bird's nest -
resting cool and heavy,
in my hands.
My grasp fit her fingerprint grooves so well -
how grateful I was to share the mold..
A final holdout from
The Early Years.

We wrapped with a camping trip, her first sleep outdoors - 
in a tent I last used with Alan.
Still had some leaves and nature, stowed away, inside,
so we left it there, she and I.
Daddy Grass we called it.
She romped in the river, muddied with her friends,
ran wild, cooked s'mores,
relished in the dirt and freedom.
All hers, all weekend long.

Only thing missing was her dad and his guitar,
would have been nice in the campfire dark.

A week of milestones, right on time,
extra heavy with a dose of Father's Day,
waiting ahead.
Got that Mid-Week-Edge that eventually eased,
it's the approach that fills me with
bluesy musings.
But yesterday she got to show off Adam to her sleep-over friend,
an Almost Dad with just the right vibes.
"He's good at things" I heard her say as they vanished into her room.

And later last night as I was turning out the lights
in zoomed a ladybug that landed on our wall ~

Right
On
Time... 
Had to shake my head with sweet surprise,
rarely a no-show on days like these.
Not sure how he does it but once again,
He did.
Made me want to wake up Lily,
whisper Daddy was here for a quick hello.
But two girls down is no small feat,
so I'll tell her tonight that
He
Came
By.

(listen)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ooh Child.


Sometimes I need just a bit more light.
A boost, a bump, a gentle push...
It's usually the sun that saves me, ushers me along.
Can't help but make a bee-line toward the gleam -
Love to sit on a stoop beneath it,
rush toward its shine on the seat of a bus
my own musical chairs.
Morning prize
to sit on it,
in it.
To be within it.
Its warmth reminds me, reassures me,
Everything's OK.

It is.

Mother's Day was sweet.
But can't say I didn't wake with that gnawing ache -
The One that shadows on
days like these.
Persistent pain that nudges and tugs -
pulls at my shirt tails, slows my step...
Asking asking, disbelieving,

Where is the man that gave me the girl?

The Girl
that leans on appliances and tells me the earth is round,
that the North Pole is real,
the sun is fire.
Loves the scent on my wrist, breathes it to calm her down.
Informs me that Flamingo knees bend backward,
makes predictions,
and tells me "the message" of a story...
Says "that's not really my thing" as she selectively shops,
mutters Jesus Christ under her breath
and sleeps late only on weekdays.

Oh how she makes living so very worthwhile.

And then I am reminded of everyone I've got,
and know his shadow need not be dark.
He's the one that stumbles my sandals on the sidewalk cracks,
but makes sure I don't fall through.
Shakes me softly out of my stupor - as I shuffle through petals,
that paint the ground pink.
Such beauty in this Mother's Day haze.
And then it's Adam's hands I reach for, that hold mine tight.
Steady my heart, make me feel alright.

This was not the motherhood I had imagined,
but it is beautiful, all the same.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

SpringTime.


Winter's gradually giving in,
still straining to chill, fighting for time,
with gasps of raindrops and wind.
But Spring will win, any day...
Better
Be
Soon.

April is Here.

Thankfully, we got a dose of sun.
A visit to Ca. softened our shoulders,
loosened our stride.
Lily got to see her Grandpa,
over eighty years between the two...
So much love I feel between them,
and yet
the
guilt
I
feel
to have someone
that she
does
not.
It is a
kind of
connection
she can't know -
but still searches for,
hopeful
she
might.

The other night she slipped me a note,
her newest mode of communication.
I am glad she is able to find other homes
for her words.
I know that need,
the urge
to put them
somewhere
else.

I love you Daddy.  I love you to the moon and back.
You make everyday better.

She is big on note writing these days.
I now have a considerable
Apology Series,
always delivered surreptitiously -
little
white
flags
announced by the rustle-fuss underneath my door.
Like dollars for a vending machine, uncreased then flattened
just-right-enough,
coaxed through to my side.
Eyes waiting to see them pulled within.

But she enjoyed our family visit.
Fed the carp, played at the beach.
Reconnected with her California Best
in teacups, over boat ride plunges and Small World wonderment,
Hi Madeleine!! she yelled over her shoulder
craning to see ahead as she
wove drove our auto on a Disney stretch -
invisible trailing scarf, cap and goggles donned.
Then we all relished in desert dry and a Palm Springs pool,
sunny days and windy nights,
topped off by a hotel ruled by blunt bangs and tatooed cool.
This is a Ricky Ricardo room, mama,
alluding to the tropical feel.
Sure, I said.

She had a point.
Usually does.
Most always punctuated by Basically and Seriously?

Finally home to NYC,
just in time
for her
first
tooth
loss.
Excitement beyond adventure, sugar or friends.
Even trumped the back-to-winter-blues..
Aged a few years by her new-tooth-gap.
Her Parking Space, I call it.

But even the Space has a new one poking through.

New shoot heralding Spring.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Balloon. Six.



Lily is SIX.
Been wearing a sequined sweater six for months,
been wiggling the tooth,
riding horses with fearless intention,
skiing happily, hands pocketed as though she were casually
gliding down a mountain.

Not sure where her confidence comes from,
it is a facet of her that is all hers...
Not from her dad, not from her mama,
this quality is homegrown.
Sprouted
out
of
Self.

She celebrated her birthday with closest family and pals,
her best gift a collection of "Daddy Stories" solicited from his oldest and dearest friends.
Just last night she ripped a turning page by accident,
studying it with her night-lite
(another birthday gift for the-girl-who-now-can-read)
in bed
on
her
own.

With six came words like
Graffiti
and
Prediction,
expressions like
"I rather prefer"
and
"That doesn't make sense" and "oh my god! That's so crazy".

"Mama, I'm going to make a prediction...  When Ricky sees Lucy he's going to say 'aye yay yay'"

And with that, I say the same.

As her birthday afternoon came to a close,
she and I rode in a taxi with her best buddy since birth,
on our way for more play,
red balloon in hand.

I want to let it go into the sky Mama, when we get home.
OK I said, so happy to celebrate her life, yet wistful with gentle ache,
knowing the wish that I knew was to come.

So there we stood on the sidewalk,
make a wish her friend said,
but don't tell us or it won't come true...
I know what it is she exclaimed with a wide wide smile,
as she released her bright red balloon into the pure blue sky.
Together we watched it soar up, up, up!

I wished that Daddy would come back to life!

Maybe he will, Lily, her old friend said - also hopeful in early life -
supporting her dreams as
Dear
Friends
Do

no Pumpkin, I said softly (my least favorite truth), that's a beautiful wish -
but unfortunately he can't come back.
But his Spirit is here with us, in our hearts...

I know, she said..

Maybe even closer, he said.

And with that we went into the building.